HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.
While he played his violin for 43 minutes in that subway station 1,097 people passed by and practically nobody noticed. Except kids. His take: just north of thirty-two dollars thrown into his open violin case in ones and loose change.
The player: internationally acclaimed virtuoso Joshua Bell. His violin: the Gibson ex Huberman, handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. And practically nobody noticed. The deal: an experiment by the Washington Post to find out whether anybody would notice a “street musician” who is in fact a professional. And practically nobody noticed. Except kids.
The kids just accepted the gift–they heard the music apart from its context.
Take from this whatever gift that is here for you–be more child-like, check your preconceptions at the door, stop and smell the roses, stay open–and start 2009 a little diffrently than you might otherwise. But before you do anything else, go to the article, read the whole thing (and it’s a long beast!) and watch the videos of the actual event. And, oh, enjoy some truly extraordinary music. Give yourself the gift of that moment and what it has to teach. Then, leave a comment, your gift to us.